The Department of Local Governance (DLG) said that the term of the third local governments would begin from January 22 in all 20 dzongkhags, regardless of whether they have held Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) and Gewog Tshogde (GT).
Some local leaders in the pandemic-hit dzongkhags, where neither DT nor GT has been held due to the lockdown, have said that they were concerned about whether they have to wait for the first GT or DT for their five-year term to begin.
DLG chief program officer Melam Zangpo said that the delay in conducting the first sitting of the LG due to the lockdown would not cause any delay in the commencement of their tenure. “All the local government terms will begin on the same date.”
The DLG had initially asked all 20 dzongkhags to call their first DT sessions on January 22 to make coordination cost-effective at the national level. But the lockdown was imposed in many dzongkhags.
The newly elected gups in the affected dzongkhags said they have assumed office.
They said their concern was about the inability to convene the first session. The DLG’s earlier notification states that salaries and other entitlement would become effective from the first sitting.
Gups in the dzongkhags, where the lockdown continues, have not yet taken the oath of office. However, gups said that they have been directed by the dzongkhag administration to assume office.
A gup from Pemagatshel said that he had not received clear information on the commencement of his tenure after the sudden lockdown. He said that the issue concerned not only the gup but also mangmis and tshogpas.
Phangyul Gup Ugyen from Wandue said that he had also assumed office. “We are expecting that the first notification from DLG would apply when it comes to our tenure and entitlements.”
A gup from Samdrupjongkhar also said that he had not received information on whether the inability to conduct DT and GT would have an impact on their tenure and entitlements.
He said the dzongkhag had directed the gups to take office as the dzongkhag waits for the Covid-19 situation to ease.
Some gups said they were of the view that their salary and other entitlements should be calculated from the day they were declared elected by the Election Commission.
They cited Section 7 of the LG entitlement Act, which states: “A member shall be entitled to salary, allowances, benefits and other emoluments from the day on which the member is declared elected.”
A gup said, “The Act should be amended if the government does not want to abide by it.”
However, the DLG officials said that there would be no change in the DLG’s notification on the effective date of the local leaders’ salaries and entitlements.
Section 208 of the LG Act 1014 states that the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs will ensure that LG members comply with the provisions of the Act and rules and regulations made thereunder.